Tell me about life in Clearwater

Discussion in 'The Sandbox - AKA Flatistan' started by Transpomgr, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. Transpomgr

    Transpomgr Adventurer

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    I have an interview with a company in Clearwater Fl in the next few weeks and have done some research comparing cost of living between DFW Texas ( lived here all my life) and the Tampa area and it looks pretty close.

    I like the ability to continue to commute on my bike year round, but from the motorcycle stand point, it looks like twisty roads are few and far between (north Texas isn't great either).

    At this point, my wife is skeptical. If an offer is made, it will probably be enough that she could work part time during the school year and we could maintain our current standard of living. My kids are 6, 9, and 11. What are the public schools like?

    I know the fishing is great, how does hunting work? In Texas, there are public opportunities, but the easiest way is to lease hunting rights from a land owner. If this is the case, what does an average lease cost?

    My wife likes the idea of being more "stay at home" for the kids, but both of our parents live here in north tx. If the offer is good, how do I talk her into it?
    #1
  2. brewmann

    brewmann Been here awhile

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    Great area if you like the water. Fishing and diving are awesome. I just came back from the Keys with a shitload of bugs (lobster). Beaches are awesome. Hog hunting year round in the groves, as well as private property once you make the connections; they are a nusance animal here, as in Texas, so anything goes. Deer hunting in the WMA's (wild, wild, west...). Leases are fairly easy to aquire.

    Riding is good, you just gotta go find it....plus it's hotter than balls right now...once it cools off, Sand camp will be in full session....

    Schools are decent, but it depends where you are looking at relocating. Just like anyplace else.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g9MMpnj3EY&sns=em

    Bruce
    #2
  3. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    I like the ability to continue to commute on my bike year round, but from the motorcycle stand point, it looks like twisty roads are few and far between (north Texas isn't great either)

    Yes and no, we have them you just have to find them. Ozello trail and Sugar Loaf mountain are two popular ones. The Everglades are pretty neat to ride through, and most of the rivers have some twisties on the roads that are beside them.

    At this point, my wife is skeptical. If an offer is made, it will probably be enough that she could work part time during the school year and we could maintain our current standard of living. My kids are 6, 9, and 11. What are the public schools like?

    I would imagine that they are pretty good. Clearwater isn't anywhere near a ghetto...lol.


    I know the fishing is great, how does hunting work? In Texas, there are public opportunities, but the easiest way is to lease hunting rights from a land owner. If this is the case, what does an average lease cost?

    When I use to hunt I did in in state/national forest around the state. I don't know about the cost of a hunting least, but I know they are pretty common.

    My wife likes the idea of being more "stay at home" for the kids, but both of our parents live here in north tx. If the offer is good, how do I talk her into it?

    Well, its a quiet community with low crime, beautiful beaches, and no riff-raff. It is close to a huge mall and international air port. Spring break doesn't bring mobs of college kids and even during the winter you can use the beach.

    When you are in town, go to Frenchies Dock Side Cafe, its pretty neat.
    #3
  4. davethegoat

    davethegoat bahhh....bah...

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    Most congested county per sq mile in all of Fl. You will not like the commute. Too many old and seasonal residents clogging up the roadways. No twisties, no elevation changes, no open areas of land. You can drive an hour or so away and find some decent roads to ride, though. Also, Croom is an hour away and is great for off-road trail riding(2600 acres).

    The beaches are where it's at. Get there early to get parking. Your kids will love it.

    Fishing is plentiful and you don't need a boat. Lots of piers and bridges to cast from.

    Restaurants are some of the best in the country.

    Downtown St. Pete and Ybor City are only 25 minutes away and offer some nightlife entertainment.

    Can't comment on the school system, though.
    #4
  5. Transpomgr

    Transpomgr Adventurer

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    Great info, keep it coming! Any peacock bass in the canals?
    #5
  6. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    There are some peacock bass way down south now, but the saltwater fishing may interest you even more. On this side of the state, we have tarpon, snook, bull sharks, and redfish in the brackish canals, flats, and mangroves. The ocean offers even more choices. We also have some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the world. A small console boat can take you fishing all over the FL coast and the inland waters. Sailboats, kayaks, and other watercraft are also popular.

    There are also crocodiles, panthers, and now Burmese pythons in the southern part of the state. The pythons are huntable, being an invasive species like the feral pigs are. Occasionally, a panther or a croc makes a run for the north, but they generally stay south of Lake Okeechobee. I saw a good-sized panther last weekend not too far south of here though. Alligators, armadillos, whitetails, bobcats, black bears, coral snakes, cottonmouths, and rattlers are found all over. Don't swim in freshwater in FL if you don't want to encounter gators, cottonmouths, or amoeba. The big springs are about the safest, because they stay cool, clear, and flowing. Saltwater or brackish means sharks, rays, jellyfish, 'cuda, and other dangerous critters. Stay aware in the water.

    There's some stuff to see and do here in FL. Drivers in FL are often idiots, and nowhere near as considerate as drivers in rural E TX. There are quite a few trails, but you're going to want a sand-capable bike. Plated is best. If it can run slab for hours, even better. Away from the cities, traffic is generally light. The humidity sucks. You can wear shorts pretty much year-round here. No income tax. Around 6% sales tax. Vehicle license tags are expensive the first time. Many cops here don't seem to have a sense of humor, even if you're not breaking the law. Definitely don't do wheelies, 20+MPH over, or DUI on public roads/waterways, as these traffic offenses don't generally get any leniency here. The Clearwater area can have a bit of crime, like any of the cities, but we're pretty gun-friendly...castle law and SYG and all that.
    #6
  7. DirtMedic

    DirtMedic Intrepid Explorer

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    Everyone else is pretty much spot on. I grew up in Clearwater. I left as soon as I could and moved to Brooksville. I cannot stand that much traffic congestion and that many people. If you look at google earth you will see it is a concrete jungle.

    You will find plenty of water activities like boating, sailing, fishing, diving, kayaking, jet skis, or hanging out on islands, but you have to hit the boat ramps obscenely early or it won't be much fun to launch. Lots of fights on the ramps with tempers heating up. Sand Key and Clearwater Beach usually make Dr. Beach's top ten list. They are nice and your family will love it.

    You will be close to everything. The down side is that it takes forever to get there because of traffic. I am twenty miles from an Appplebees here in Brooksville, it takes me twenty minutes to get there. My dad in Clearwater may be a few miles from one, but it also takes him twenty minutes to get to it.

    Crime is pretty low, but it is there like anywhere else. There are areas of ghetto, but for the most part the neighborhoods tend to run towards the better side of things. As someone else noted our gun laws are pretty much on the side of the law abiding citizen. You will notice we did not have the riots and crime after the George Zimmerman trial. The thugs aren't stupid. Get your permit and carry.

    There are plenty of well maintained county parks. There is a bike path that runs the length of the county. Honeymoon Island State Park and North Clearwater Beach have dog friendly beaches. Tarpon Springs has some of the best Greek food you could ask for. Safety Harbor is a sleepy little tranquil town. There are several large malls in the county. Lots of good restaurants and plenty to do both day and night. Depending on where work is, you might want to check out the city of Dunedin or Safety Harbor as a place to live. If you are into sports, Dunedin and Clearwater both have minor league teams. The Tropicana Field is in St. Pete. The Raymond James Stadium is just over in Tampa. Pinellas also has lots of softball leagues, flag football, etc.

    If there is a hurricane of any magnitude get out early. There are only a few ways off the peninsula.

    The schools are decent. I had good experiences there and I understand they are still pretty good. There is also the option of Florida Virtual School. The kids stay home and do their work online with the help of a teacher who is available online and by phone. My daughter was able to get her school work done in about two to four hours if she kept at it. It is a public education, but the parents can be more involved. I was impressed with it.

    If you want a rush then ride your motorcycle in rush hour on U.S. 19. It is nuts. I really wouldn't advise it. A common bumper sticker is "Pray for me, I drive U.S. 19". Daily commuting will really depend on where you live, where you work, and what roads you take. I see plenty of motorcyclists commuting, but I would not in most areas of the county. Also keep in mind, Pinellas has a large percentage of its population who are retirees from up north. Grandma likes to go for her morning breakfast at Bob Evans while you are trying to get to work in congested rush hour. It is a dangerous combination. While the temperatures are more conducive to year round riding, we also have a rainy season that just won't quit. Get a good rain suit if you plan on motorcycle commuting.

    As for recreational riding, you can head north about an hour and a half to Brooksville or Central Florida where there is some good riding. It isn't Deals Gap, but there are curves. If you are into dual sports, there is a ton of riding around Brooksville and further north for that. Dixie Dual Sports is a good organization to join. I have a buddy who comes up from Pinellas about twice a month with his DR650 and we ride this area. If you are into off road dirt bikes, then as the others mentioned we have Croom motocross park.

    There is lots of public land for hunting. There are places where you can buy into a lease, but I don't know of anyone around here who does. Again, you will have to travel to go hunting. Target shooting will be at some of the private ranges in Pinellas. I believe the Antelope Club is still in business, otherwise, it is a drive up U.S. 19 to Hernando County to go to the Hernando Sportsman's Club. They have a 200 yard range. The next county north, Citrus County should be opening a 600 yard range soon.

    Good luck with your interview and your decision.
    #7
  8. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    Everyone is definitely hitting the nail on the head.

    Wyoming Antelope club is the best range for the money in Pinellas.

    Schools are generally better in the northern part of the county but traffic is worse up there. I live in St. Pete close to downtown and traffic is not bad at all down this side. Possibly look more toward the central part of county?

    If you enjoy the outdoors, which it sounds like you do, Florida is amazing. Though I miss the mountains, the beaches and outdoor activities are endless. It's a great place for families as there is always something going on!

    Good luck and ride safe!
    #8
  9. Ogre_fl

    Ogre_fl Long timer

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    FWIW I wouldn't do it unless its so much money that you are significantly changing your life.

    Unless you just don't get along with your inlaws/family, not having that support is tough on a family.

    I lived in a number of places around the Tampa/St Pete/Clearwater area for several years.
    I would have to think really hard about ever going back, even for an obscene amount of money.

    IMO the traffic is awful in most places, though I would guess it may be as bad in the DFW area.
    I don't know though if you have the elderly drivers and tourists to deal with as they just add to the frustration/danger.

    I moto commuted when I lived there.
    I WOULD NOT do it today now that I have a wife and kids.
    I consider myself lucky to have survived moto commuting the years I did down there.

    BTW, how far is it for you to get to east oklahoma/west arkansas?
    Keep in mind that its about 600 mind numbing miles from there to any real decent riding.
    #9
  10. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    I disagree, I have been in the Orlando/Tampa Bay area for many years and its no worse (or better) than any other metropolitan area.

    FWIW I have commuted in DC, Richmond VA, Jacksonville FL, Austin TX, DFW, and Tague S. Korea.
    #10
  11. Transpomgr

    Transpomgr Adventurer

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    My commute from central Arlington to just south of DFW Airport is about 30 miles round trip. It usually takes about 40 minutes out of my day, via back roads. More if I take the highways.

    Oklahoma is three hours straight north, Arkansas is about five hours north east. There are, however, farm roads. Texas is full of "pretty good" little farm roads. Not the Dragon, but pretty good. I'm not put off by driving. Here, if you are leaving the neighborhood, it is at least half an hour to just about anywhere. My dear lease is outside of Mason, about five hours drive. About five hours to the beach in Galveston, about 8 hours to better beach farther south. Ten hours to desert, and I understand there are mountains, but hell if I've ever seen 'um!

    It would have to be a life changing offer. My mom and in laws are great. (I'm writing this in a forum that isn't followed by any of them, so it must be true) I would hate to be without them, but my dad was in the navy before I was born and they lived all over the world with my older brothers, so I see that it can be done. My wife is the one that will take the convincing.
    #11
  12. FASTnSPEEDY

    FASTnSPEEDY Adventurer

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    FWIW: Leases are around $9-12 year/acre in S. GA and N FL for your typical southern sandy tree farm full of slash pines (of course, nice land can be more and I hunted a lease last year which went for $4/acre so that's just a starting point). Don't know what it would be south of Gainesville.

    I've heard the cities are somewhat similar but I couldn't say as I haven't spent much time in either city.
    #12
  13. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    Clearwater is about 3.5-4 hours from Ga. Off the turnpike where it intersects the "408" we have some hills and pretty good roads to ride.
    #13
  14. yzmaico

    yzmaico Slacker

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    The roads are the best! We have zero road construction in Pinellas County. All traffic lights are timed so you never have to sit at an intersection for more than 60 seconds. The drivers are sooo nice, very kind to all motorcyclists. That is all. Good day.
    #14
  15. NitroRoo

    NitroRoo Been here awhile

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    :rofl

    I lived in Tampa and St. Pete/Largo areas for about 6 years. Most of those years I commuted either by scooter or 250 Ninja. I have also spend a LOT of time in Texas. We lived in Lubbock for about 2 years, and the Rio Grande Valley for 10 or so - I've also spent quite a bit of time in DFW.

    Personally, I'd choose Clearwater over Dallas in a heartbeat any day - mainly because of the ocean and the life that you can have by the beach. Forget about what you think good fishing is. Get out with a guide on the intercoastal around clearwater and you'll be having an amazing time. Having said that, others have really pointed out some important things to consider. You will feel completely trapped/smothered/boxed in by people - EVERYWHERE. Pinellas county is a peninsula... so you are riding either South, East, or North to get out - and plan on a good hour ride before you are truly out on a country road without people everywhere.

    I think the weather is about a wash - DFW can get downright nasty humid, Florida is pretty much always humid.

    Despite all the hate Florida gets for its lack of roads, there are some good ones and some beautiful areas, especially up towards Brooksville and Floral City.

    Now kids and family life are something else to consider. My kids are 9 and 10, and I am super thankful to be raising them in NC vs. Florida. Florida is a very transient place, and it seems to lack the foundational roots of good moral values, ethics, etc. Now this is purely my opinion, and I know DFW certainly has it's rough areas too - but in general Texans are a bit more respectful and community minded vs. the people in Florida, who seem to just be looking out for #1 (I realize I am painting with a broad brush, but again, that's just my $.02). I have a LOT of friends in Florida who send their kids to private schools - which is what we did when we lived there.
    #15
  16. NitroRoo

    NitroRoo Been here awhile

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    PS you may enjoy a couple videos I made a few weeks ago, might give you more of a feel for the riding down there.

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    #16
  17. cory1848

    cory1848 Been here awhile

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    I have been trying for the past 3 years to get out of FL. Making is a goal to be out for good in one year to date when my lease is up. I have a decent job which will be tough to give up but I can't see myself wasting away here any longer. For me, all the coastal cities are the same. Lived in Sarasota for 6 years which is very similar to clearwater. Same crappy traffic, crappy roads and idiot drivers. I sit inside all day during the week cause it is too damn hot and humid to do much of anything outside. Sugarloaf mountain roads are fun for a few laps but then get real old real quick. Not worth riding out from clearwater to do that. Any decent riding is 8 hours north in the GA mountains. If you are a beach bum you will like it, just not my style. I want to live in a place where the seasons actually change. Been here 18 years and I am burnt out on Florida.
    #17
  18. Dr.Z

    Dr.Z 6Sigma Knuckle Shflr

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    Wow, if I didn't know any better... it sounds like you're pretty miserable!

    Life's too fucking short to be miserable. :deal
    #18
  19. cory1848

    cory1848 Been here awhile

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    Not miserable, just not happy living here. I agree, too short to be miserable, that is why I am trying to get out. :thumb
    #19
  20. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    After living in a couple different states and two foreign countries, I can tell you that is the same no matter where you go.
    #20